Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

February 2007
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Cover Story

Tatarstan President, Shaimiev Wins King Faisal Prize 2007, for Service to Islam

Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, Director General of the King Faisal Foundation in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, announced the winners of the prestigious King Faisal International Prize for the year 2007, last fortnight. The recipients will be honoured in a ceremony in the near future.

The Prize for “Service to Islam” has been awarded to the Tatarstan President, Mintimer Sharipovich Shaimiev. President Shaimiev is awarded the Prize in recognition of his distinguished services to Islam, including his steadfast efforts to revive Islamic culture in the Republic of Tatarstan, promote Islamic teachings and values among its population, and rebuild Islamic mosques destroyed during previous eras. The Republic of Tatarstan is a democratic constitutional state associated with the Russian Federation. It has a population of less than four million; about one half of the population is Sunni Muslim and the rest are Orthodox Christians. Today, more than a thousand mosques have been rebuilt, including 40 in the capital city of Kazan, whereas only four mosques had remained during the communist rule of that country. President Shaimiev’s reign has also witnessed the inauguration of the Ghol Sharif Mosque, a masterpiece of Islamic architecture, as well as the printing of the Quran and major Islamic books, inception of numerous Islamic schools and societies and establishment of the Russian Islamic University, which promotes teaching in Russian, Tatarian and Arabic languages. The president is also acknowledged for pursuing wise policy that helped consolidate rapport and peaceful co-existence among residents of the state, and culminated in a discernible economic and cultural development of that country.

Following its inception in 1977, the King Faisal International Prize has quickly established itself as one of the world’s most prestigious awards. Through the Prize, the King Faisal Foundation seeks to show its appreciation to those individuals who have rendered exceptionally outstanding services to Islam and Muslims, and to scholars and scientists who have made significant contributions and advances in areas that benefit developing and Muslim countries, and humanity at large.

The Prize for Islamic Studies (Topic: Muslims’ Contribution to Pure or Applied Sciences) was awarded to the science historian, Roshdi Hifni Rashed. He was declared the winner in this category in recognition of his insightful studies, authentication, commentaries and translations of Muslims’ contributions to pure science, in particular their achievements in the fields of mathematics and optics. He is an Emeritus Research Director (Distinguished Class) of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Honorary Professor, Tokyo University, Japan.

The Prize for Arabic Language and Literature (Topic: Ancient Arabic Rhetoric) has been awarded jointly to Muhammad A. Al-Omari of Morocco and Mustafa A. Nasif of Egypt. Both are professors of rhetoric at the King Muhammad V University, Rabat and Ain Shams University, Cairo respectively. Al-Omari received the award for his research on Arabic rhetoric and oratory, in particular his precise metho-dology and research presenta-tion. Nasif was selected for his comprehensive and original research on Arabic rhetoric as it relates to the origins of modern Arabic.

The Prize for Medicine (Topic: Prostate Cancer) has been awarded jointly to Fernand Labrie of Canada and Patrick Craig Walsh of USA, in recognition of their respective contributions to therapeutic and surgical management of prostate cancer. Labrie, of the Central Hospital of Laval University in Quebec has made contributions which have enhanced the quality of life of the prostrate cancer patients. He has also evaluated early detection procedures for prostate cancer. Walsh, of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, is recognized for developing nerve sparing radical surgery for prostate cancer.

This year the prize for Science was given for the subcategory of Chemistry to James Fraser Stoddart, a British professor of Nano Systems Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles. Professor Stoddart is a pioneer in the development of a new field in chemistry dealing with nanoscience.

Nominations for the prizes are accepted only from international institutions and organisations. The prizes can be shared. Each of the five Prizes consists of a certificate, hand-written in Diwani calligraphy, summarizing the laureate’s work; a commemorative 24 carat, 200 gram gold medal, uniquely cast for each Prize; and a cash endowment of Saudi Riyal 750,000 (about US$200,000).

(Reported by Sameen Ahmed Khan-

“Create an International Fatwa Panel,” say Scholars

Islamic religious leaders have called for the creation of an international committee to provide uniform religious edicts and guidelines to Muslims in a bid to isolate extremist clerics. Sunni and Shiite leaders, who attended the historic ‘Doha Conference for Dialogue of Islamic Schools of Thought,’ last fortnight have agreed in unison that contradictory fatwas (religious edicts) given by extremist or illegal clerics from both sects, create confusion among believers and could finally lead to clashes and sectarian strife.

Referring to the proposal for the Fatwa panel, Prof. Dheen Moham-mad, head of the Department of Dawah and Islamic Culture at Qatar University, said that there is unanimous agreement among participants that there should be a supreme committee representing knowledgeable representatives from all Islamic sects that will be the sole authority to issue fatwas concerning Islamic issues. “There are too many different authorities issuing fatwas and creating confusion among Muslims as well as between Muslims and people of other faiths. On the contrary, all the general problems faced by Muslims should be addressed by a sole authority”, said Prof. Dheen.

Prof. Dheen said Islamic clerics at different times have issued edicts calling Muslims to join the jihad (holy war) stirring a debate among Islamic leaders on who should have the authority to issue such religious decrees. “There should be a clear distinction between religious discourse among scholars or their personal views and the fatwas issued to the community,” he said adding that the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) could be the ideal body to incorporate this Supreme Committee and to sponsor it.

Ikrimah Sayyed Sabri, Mufti of Palestine, called on Shiites and Sunnis to set up a joint committee of experts and educationists to amend schools’ curricula. The objective would be that of correcting school books from misleading religious thoughts and interpretations that harm one sect or the other and could foment hatred.